Movie Review: Is family planning easier, or funnier when “Babysplitters” are involved?


“Babysplitters” is the very definition of a “split decision” comedy.

On the one hand, it has funny lines, situations and the odd funny touch in the performances.

On the other, those are spread out over two hours. Only Judd Apatow can get away with that.

The central conceit — couples half-interested in having a child deciding to have one they share, “Babysplitting,” is promising. But there are subsidiary plot threads that have little upside and eat up screen time between laughs.

Danny Pudi, a member of the vast cast of TV’s “Community,” back in the day, makes an amusing leading man. The rest of the cast is more miss than hit.

Pudi and Emily Chang (TV’s “The Bold Type”) are a married couple in their 30s “thinking about” having a baby. As in “SOMEday,” according to him, “soon” by her reckoning. Writer-director Sam Friedlander’s best scene is our introduction to Sarah and Jeff — actu sexus — him fumbling with a condom she wants nothing to do with, him not reading the signals that she REALLY wants this to produce something, right now.

“Sometimes I wonder if you want to have a baby WITH me, or just have a baby, period!”

“Don’t make me choose, Because right now, the BABY has the edge!”

By the way, Chang? Funny.

Jeff’s hangups about a baby start with his unhappy work life, as the grownup at an organic food farm-to-table start-up, FRM2TBL. He’s the “boomer” (“Ok, NOT a boomer!”) always running afoul of what the CEO calls “tee-dubs,” Trigger Warnings among the youth.

“I’m OFFENDED,” one Gen-Z ditz snaps. “I did, and I’m like, one PERcent Indian!”

It’s “Native American,” dear.

“Whitesplaining. Whatever.”

“Have you SEEN me?” Pudi is of Indian-Polish extraction, and is late learning “I can’t CORRECT someone if I have a penis?”

Sarah and Jeff go back and forth over pluses and minuses of having a child — “It crushes your social circle,” for starters. But have a baby, get a whole NEW social circle, “just like freshman year in college.”

They have the odd nightmarish encounter with free range kids, the product of “CCPP, collaborative constructive permissive parenting.”

But their friends Taylor and Don (Maiara Walsh and Eddie Alfano), a ballet dancer and a gym owner, are stuck in the same dilemma. He wants a child, she’s focused on dancing for a few years more.

Somehow, they talk themselves into this weird “new” idea. Somehow, they find an oddball OGB-GYN (Brian Thomas Smith of “The Big Bang Theory,” amusing) who is judgement-free.

Let the REAL complications begin. And let the movie, which has been witty banter, clever montages (Jeff gets caught in the “Normandy” of water-balloon assaults at a bratty kids’ party), starts to bog down, lumber and limp along.

Jeff has a shrink (Mark Feuerstein) whose therapy involves sending Jeff on a lot of hypnotic reveries that turn into nightmare scenarios.

Sarah’s job, as a meter maid, involves regular run-ins with an actress with kids who is always getting parking tickets.

The “getting pregnant” part of the story has many wrinkles, options and negotiations. Guess which the most awkward would be, and that’s the way they go — complete with four people participating, bargaining and the like.

“Is it OK to talk dirty?”

“COACH her, babe.”

The last 75 minutes of “Babysplitters” doesn’t live up to the promise of the first 45. What is light, snappy and fun becomes labored, cluttered and almost too serious for its own good.

This needed tightening at the screenplay stage, and failing that — merciless editing pre-release. Cut the shrink scenes altogether, for starters.

There’s a cute “reinventing having a baby” comedy here. It just gets lost in all the bathwater.


MPAA Rating: unrated, adult situations, sexual content

Cast: Danny Pudi, Emily Chang, Maiara Walsh, Eddie Alfano and Brian Thomas Smith.

Credits: Written and directed by Sam Friedlander. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:59

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